But beyond those musical considerations, to go back to “Rusty Cage,” after having sang (in “Never Far Away” from Scream)
I don’t have to pray anymore
Because my soul has been saved
I couldn’t imagine that with his family and apparent serenity, that he still felt caged.
This isn’t the time or place, but Cornell in fact, seemed to have an obsession with being saved, and I think a look at his lyrics across the years would bear that out.
Kept the Movie Rolling
The strange thing about these deaths of men I’ve admired is that they send me inward in ways I never would have expected. They make me ask, what did I admire in this person so much? Am I at all like them? Is my grief really justified?
The day of the Detroit show, Cornell’s last day alive, I shuffled Soundgarden on iTunes at my house as I packed gym bags and work bags to go into Kingston (I now live 20 miles outside it). I don’t mind telling you I have a Marantz receiver that plays into a pair Klipsch bookshelf speakers and subwoofer. Soundgarden is the perfect band to play loudly, when Cornell’s voice is paired with the loudness of drums and guitars and he’s signing his most powerfully—just as Theresa had wished to hear at UPAC.
When a track from King Animal came on (Soundgarden’s reunion album), I remembered having dreamt about the album in some way, seeing the snow-covered landscape of the album artwork in my sleep. The whiteness. I don’t know what it means, if it means anything.
It was Theresa who told me, when I woke, that there was bad news online. I read off and on throughout the morning, as much as I could tolerate reading about his past with rehab and alcoholism. As I reported to Facebook, I hadn’t read about Cornell’s treatment at all at the time it happened. I wasn’t sure why I’d never followed it closely, but I figured it was because of my distaste for the gaudier aspects of celebrity and gossip. It turns out he and I were receiving our respective rehab treatments during the same years. We were both in clinics.
My enduring addiction was a burden, and I had tried and failed to save myself for many years. One thing that got me to treatment was the realization of how long I’d been at these behaviors that did me little good. In other words,
I kept the movie rolling
But the story’s getting old now
Those lyrics from “Outshined.”
It may be that these lines helped me characterize my own life to myself. It may be that I kept Badmotorfinger in heavy rotation throughout my twenties and thirties precisely until lines like these crystallized into their personal usefulness for me. That’s probably the best thing I can say about the man: he may have helped save my life through the power of his voice.